Everything went according to plan until just before the finish with the first moon landing by a private company. But then the Japanese space company Ispace lost contact with its probe on Tuesday evening. As the company has now explained, the unmanned lunar lander Hakuto-R M1 Apparently the fuel ran out a few meters before the target. The probe approached the moon in an upright position, Ispace announced on Wednesday morning. But then the calculated amount of fuel reached the lower threshold. Shortly thereafter, the rate of descent to the moon increased rapidly. In other words, the spacecraft ran out of fuel and fell. Hakuto-R M1 then, according to Ispace, most likely crashed on the surface.
The probe, which was launched in December at Cape Canaveral in Florida, boarded a Falcon-9rocket launched by Space X should have touched down cautiously on the moon at 6.40 p.m. German time on Tuesday. The spacecraft had specifically chosen an energy-efficient route to the moon in order to save fuel and thus have more space for luggage. Using the fastest route, a probe would only need about three days to reach the moon.
The probe may have miscalculated its altitude
With the crash of the probe, only government space agencies have managed to land a ferry safely on a celestial body other than Earth. The Chinese authority CNSA had the most recent successful moon mission Chang’e 5 undertaken. The probe reached the moon in November 2020 and brought moon rocks and moon dust back to Earth.
Ispace announced that experts will now look through the data to determine the exact cause of the fuel problem. The probe may have miscalculated its altitude. Although they assume that the mission has failed, the company says it has gained valuable insights for the future. Ispace is already planning further moon flights; the addition “M1” at Hakuto-R M1 stands for “mission one”. The next mission is scheduled for 2024, and a third for 2025.